Volunteer Spotlight

We are delighted to introduce to you this issue’s “Volunteer Spotlight,” Harris Markowitz, whom we met four years ago and continues to rise to every occasion put before him to help raise awareness and funds for our Chapter.  From Great Strides Team Leader to Treasurer of the NYC YPLC, we thank you for long-standing  support and commitment to our cause. You inspire us all!

It was a cold day in February when my manager asked me if I had talked to Lynn since the birth of her baby daughter.  I responded no.  I had been so busy at work that I had forgotten to wish my dear friend congratulations.  That afternoon I stepped out of the audit room and into the conference room overlooking Park Avenue expecting Lynn to tell me what a true treasure she now has.  Well, that conversation was partially true.  Lynn assured me that she did have a treasure but that her daughter was born with cystic fibrosis (CF), something neither she nor her husband, Roger, had ever expected.  I was in disbelief and didn’t really know what to say.  At the time, I didn’t know much about the disease other than it affects the lungs and is a life-threatening disease.  Lynn tried to sound positive and said it took her and Roger a long time to accept their daughter having CF.  They vowed that they would do everything possible to fight the disease.  Without flinching, I told them I would help fight also.

It has been almost four years since my first interaction with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  At the time, Lynn had asked me if I would consider leading the Great Strides Walk representing our company, Ernst & Young.  As I vowed to her on that cold day, I once again didn’t flinch and said of course.  I told her we would make it into a social event and that it would help raise awareness, in addition to raising the crucial funds needed to fight this terrible disease.  It turned out to be a huge success, and Ernst & Young has remained a supporter of Great Strides to this day. 

Since that first Great Strides Walk four years ago, I continually find myself wanting to give back to the CF Foundation.  The more families I meet, and the more stories I hear, the more motivation it gives me to help find a cure for this disease.  I have learned that even though CF only affects a population of 70,000 children and adults worldwide (which, when I say “only,” even one person with this disease is one too many), it affects so many more.  Every person I know and meet knows someone who has or passed away from CF.  There’s one common thread with every person that I’ve talked to and that is they won’t rest until this disease has been cured. 

I joined the Chapter’s Young Professional Leadership Committee and have had the privilege of getting to know more people who not only know others living with the disease but also have CF.  Hearing the pain they go through on a daily basis; the obstacles they have to endure with insurance companies; and seeing how they live life to the fullest continues to remind me why I am involved with the CF Foundation.  They have taught me that to truly cure this disease we need to have as many people on our side as possible and raise awareness each day. 

When I ask them what piece of advice they would tell others, each of them said the same thing, “Never stop fighting.  Don’t stop fighting for the things you believe and don’t stop fighting for life.”  I will fight this disease for Lynn and Roger’s treasure, and I will fight this disease for all of the treasures that had their lives ended too early and finally, I will fight this disease for all of the treasures that have CF until we’re able to say that CF is finally cured.